autoevolution
 

The US Needs More DC Fast Chargers ASAP

Data doesn't lie. EV ownership and interest are on the rise, and so are those looking for a dispenser that will recharge their zero-emission vehicles' batteries in half an hour tops. That means some companies, the federal government, and state and local agencies will have to work harder on developing the high-power charging infrastructure. Here's why they need to start sooner rather than later.
EA Stall 16 photos
Photo: Electrify America / autoevolution edit
NEVI Federal Charging Investment PlanNEVI Federal Charging Investment PlanNEVI Federal Charging Investment PlanNEVI Federal Charging Investment PlanNEVI Federal Charging Investment PlanNEVI Federal Charging Investment PlanThe charging station of the future, according to Electrify AmericaThe charging station of the future, according to Electrify AmericaThe charging station of the future, according to Electrify AmericaThe charging station of the future, according to Electrify AmericaThe charging station of the future, according to Electrify AmericaThe charging station of the future, according to Electrify AmericaThe charging station of the future, according to Electrify AmericaThe charging station of the future, according to Electrify AmericaEA Data
Tesla is the undisputed champion of fast-charging solutions. It has over 2,300 locations in the US and Canada where multiple EV owners can charge simultaneously, and it continues to expand them.

However, only a few are equipped with the Magic Dock adapter that allows drivers of models equipped with the CCS Combo 1 port to get electrons delivered fast to their cars' high-voltage batteries.
In February 2020, Electrify America opened its 400th DC fast-charging station in North America. Four years later, the VW-owned, Dieselgate-born company more than doubled the number of places where more than one stall exists. It has over 900 stations that should be up and running.

As for ChargePoint, it has focused mainly on California, Texas, and Florida. In 2017, it bought and gradually upgraded General Electric's 9,800 dispensers scattered across the US. Today, it has over 1,100 such places with multiple stalls active. Thanks to partnerships with manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, it also remains focused on expanding the number of charging stations.

Today, there are over four million EVs on US roads, according to the Department of Energy. Over 1.4 million units (including about 200,000 plug-in hybrids) were added last year. Believe it or not, 1.2 million Americans chose a battery-electric vehicle as their new car in 2023.

The charging station of the future, according to Electrify America
Photo: Electrify America

The numbers don't match

These zero-emission rides have access to 170,000 public dispensers, but not all of them are DC fast-charging stalls. Still, Uncle Sam says around 900 new chargers are coming online every week.

That may suggest a new type of pressure forming for the national electrical grid. Fret not; data coming from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms that electricity use decreased by 1% until the last day of November 2023. That's despite a clear increase in light-duty (sub-8,500 lb) EV electricity consumption. In 2022, EVs (excluding plug-in hybrids like the Jeep Wrangler 4xe) needed 3.1 million MWh of electricity. Preliminary data for 2023 shows a consumption increase of 57% to 4.7 million MWh.

That's not strange. The answer is simple: we just bought more efficient electronics and spent less time plugging in all sorts of devices. Moreover, many Americans chose to spend money on various types of solar panels, which helped them rely less on the grid.

The problem is that EV owners who want to travel long distances rely on DC fast chargers that may or may not work. Last year, a Cannonball record attempt with one of the fastest-charging EVs out there, the Lucid Air Grand Touring, failed because the dispensers weren't working properly. Things haven't improved much since.

The charging station of the future, according to Electrify America
Photo: Electrify America
But with the industry-wide switch to Tesla's charging port (now called the North American Charging Standard – NACS) and Superchargers gradually opening to other EVs, things might improve a little temporarily.

More!

Still, the need for more charging infrastructure has never been clearer. BMW M's best-selling vehicle in 2023 was the all-electric i4 M50. Although not a full-fledged M car, it showed that even people looking for a premium experience offered by an established auto manufacturer were willing to ditch the internal combustion engine.

That trend will continue, even though EVs may be more expensive to insure, and some states like Texas punish owners with higher fees.

Besides that car shopping behavior shift, ChargePoint stated that the number of charging stations increased by 53%. Electrify America said it recorded double the charging sessions in the US and Canada. It has gotten so hectic that both Tesla and Electrify America introduced new fees. The former charges a congestion fee, while the latter recently reactivated the idle fee to deter people from hogging the stalls.

NEVI Federal Charging Investment Plan
Photo: John Cameron on Unsplash
The federal government acted by offering states funds through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, but things aren't moving as fast as they could. Some use the money wisely, others are lagging. Besides that, Washington, D.C. has set aside some funds to deploy as it sees fit. Most recently, it directed money toward fixing broken chargers.

Sadly, four million EVs (and counting) can't share 170,000 stalls without queues forming or drivers becoming irritated. We already had cases of EV owners waiting one hour or more to get some electrons.

The federal government, state agencies, Tesla, Electrify America, ChargePoint, and others must coordinate their efforts to ramp up the deployment of new infrastructure. EVs can help the environment, but not if people are starting to dislike them because they can't drive longer journeys or when there are weather issues. Now's the time to act.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
press release
About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
Full profile

 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories